Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book appreciation part 1: Pattern-Free Quilts by Kathleen Loomis

Early September I received the surprise shipment of Kathy Loomis’ newly published book “Pattern-Free Quilts – Riffs on the Rail Fence Block” in the mail. When I started looking through it in more detail I wished I had more time right now to whip out a few pieces of fabric and simply play around, varying a bit further on that topic of 'riffing from a set motif'. I’ve been working ‘freely’ on my own for a long time, but although I sort of knew everything Kathy wrote about, it certainly sent my mind spinning about all the other things one could do with this pattern (or many others).
I would like to give you a short introduction to the book here, because I know that many quilters are always on the lookout for new ways of being inspired. And obviously sometimes it does not take a whole complicated design process, but even only reading about playing around and trying out some things and an overseeable number of variations is enough to get you going!

the front cover

the back cover

One thing I really loved about the book was that while I was reading it, it always felt like I was hearing Kathy’s voice. Now I know that I am privileged in that I have become friends with her and repeatedly got to spend extended periods of time with her, and this is not a position that every reader might find herself in. But I am fully convinced that there is so much of Kathy’s personality present in this book, it is almost as good as having her near you! (But only close, almost.)

The contents page already is a sight to look at:

Kathy walks you through the process of loosening oneself up enough to start playing around, to gain confidence in your own abilities of independently developing your own design by slowly varying one step after the other. An interesting analogy is her comparison of quiltmaking to cooking – perhaps not so surprising if you know that she also writes a blog about food and cooking. When you learned how to cook you might have first learned to do one recipe. And as you were growing comfortable with that one recipe you started changing individual ingredients step by step, until you came out with a completely different dish, yet you were in a way still ‘using’ the same first recipe...

Cutting a wege-shaped rail fence block ad libitum!

Through the stages of varying widths of strips, numbers of strips, shapes of strips, colour choice and shapes of blocks the book contains a whole course in ‘free quilt design’.  Several of the quilts shown in pictures make it hard for the viewer to recognize an underlying rail fence block. That’s successful liberation from a motif.

From the Gallery section: two quilts varying on the theme of rail fence block

In a way it made me wish I were at an ‘earlier’ stage in my own development of quilt maker. It would be fun to freshly embark on that road under this guidance, and I recommend this book to anybody who is willing to loosen up! 


  1. Sounds great! I've been following Kathy for a while and love her work.

  2. Thank you Uta, the book looks very interesting! I've looked for it and found it on CreateSpace. I think it's a good idea to add the ISBN.

  3. Just ordered my copy, this really is what I need!

  4. You can order the book here (pay by credit card), once you have set up an account:
    The ISBN is 978-0-9884282-1-8
    The book costs $21,99, Shipping is $4.99 - I did not check whether they offer the amount in Euros.